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Faith-based Orgs Can Help Post-pandemic Initiatives—UN

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) called the help of faith-based organizations, among other institutions, in creating environmentally-friendly initiatives as the world shifts to a more sustainable lifestyle following the COVID-19 pandemic.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the pandemic is not only a health crisis, but also a human crisis as well. Policymakers should coordinate with experts in different fields, including religious leaders, scientists, scholars, in creating guidelines on rebuilding a society that is more conscious on how it treats Mother Nature.

Healthy, functioning ecosystems, and environmental law, are central to a post-COVID world, and religious institutions can help push for progress on strengthening policy frameworks to bring about necessary change. —Iyad Abumoghli, Principal Coordinator of Faith for Earth

Faith for Earth, a resolution passed in 2008, is UNEP’s initiative to promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue to achieve UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Joining pioneer organizations, such as World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Alliance of Religion and Conservation (ARC), is the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology.

“We have agreed with the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology to unite our efforts and strengthen environmental advocacy, building on the Forum’s extensive work over the past two decades,” said Iyad Abumoghli, Principal Coordinator of Faith for Earth.

In addition to featuring news on religion and ecology, the Yale Forum publishes a monthly newspaper telling about 300 projects by different religions in the world.

“Even before COVID-19 we saw a renewed focus on humans’ relationship with, and dependence on, the environment, in churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques around the world. Awareness is growing, as are calls for environmental justice for people and planet,” said Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim, founders of the Yale Forum.

This latest partnership will help UNEP in promoting environmental responsibility to people and encouraging actions towards protecting and restoring ecosystems.

“Healthy, functioning ecosystems, and environmental law, are central to a post-COVID world, and religious institutions can help push for progress on strengthening policy frameworks to bring about necessary change,” said Abumoghli.

Faith-based organizations are vital in establishing a “new normal” brought by the coronavirus pandemic. More than 80% of people in the world are influenced by their spiritual beliefs and faith leaders should play an important role in bringing big changes in behavior and attitudes of people.

Since many religious organizations operate educational institutions, leaders could include subjects and projects on protecting the environment and “raise awareness about the linkages between human health and planetary health.”

According to an article in German news broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, “Our long-term response to COVID-19 must be to fix our relationship with the planet. This repair job should be a whole-system response made up of many parts.”

In a Tweet, Inger Andersen, executive director of the UN Environment Program, wrote: “Faith provides support to billions of people, especially in times of crisis. But beyond the immediate crisis, faith can and must help us improve our stewardship of the planet.”

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